The Final Dime - Cavaliers 88, Sixers 72
David Liam Kyle
Playing without the injured Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Daniel Gibson, the Cavaliers were tied at 25 after one, but proceeded to pull away with for the next three periods to take the 88-72 victory – their 19th in the last 20 – on Friday night at The Q.
As he did two nights earlier in Philly, LeBron James led everyone with 28 points, adding seven boards, and a team-high seven dimes. The young King scored 10 of his 28 in the third quarter, going 9-for-21 from the floor with a steal and a team-high three blocked shots.
Anderson Varejao – getting his first start of the season in place of Ilgauskas, who sprained his left ankle in Philly on Wednesday – netted 17 points, going 7-for-10 from the floor to go with seven boards and two swats of his own.
The Sixers came out firing, shooting 55 percent in the first period to the Cavaliers’ 34. But the short-handed Wine and Gold found their sea legs in the second quarter – holding Philadelphia under 20 points in the next three periods. The Sixers actually out-shot and out-rebounded the Cavaliers, but also had 20 turnovers to the Cavaliers’ 12 and were just 1-of-12 from beyond the arc.
“You’re able to get some wins when you have a guy like LeBron averaging 35 minutes a game, because we don’t miss a beat with the guys coming off the bench,” praised Coach Mike Brown. “That’s just another positive that this team has shown early on in the season.”
The Cavaliers wrap up their four-games-in-five-nights stretch on Saturday night down in Dixie when they face Joe Johnson and the Hawks.
2. The Cavaliers’ 11-game run matches the longest win streak in franchise history. The Wine and Gold have run off 11 straight on four different occasions – (1988-89, 1991-92, 1993-94, and 1994-95). During the current win streak, the Cavaliers are winning by an average of 19.8 points per game.
3. Cleveland is now 13-0 at home – easily the best start in franchise history – and are the only team in the NBA to have an unblemished home record.
4. Rookie Darnell Jackson had been climbing up the depth chart ever since coming off a wrist injury that sidelined him through the first part of the season and on Friday night, the man they call “D-Block” set a career-high in minutes and rebounds. In 24 action-packed minutes off Mike Brown’s bench, the former Jayhawk grabbed eight boards and combined with Ben Wallace to hold Elton Brand to 4-for-13 shooting.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Jackson. “Playing on this team, you never know how the game is going to go. Since we have been here, it’s been a lot of fun for us to get in there and execute plays and get a chance to play with all of those guys out there.”
5. Last season, the Cavaliers didn’t win their 20th game until January 15th.
6. For the second-straight game, the Cavaliers donned the gold Hardwood Classic uniforms – with the Sixers matching the old school look with the mid-80s, Dr. J Era throwbacks of their own. So, now that LeBron has worn three different eras of Cavaliers vintage uniforms, where do the current threads rank?
“I like (the throwbacks),” said No. 23. “I think the team likes them, if you go back through the throwback editions. They feel good and they look good, too – especially on TV. I’d rank them No. 1.”
7. Cleveland native and the pride of St. Ed’s, Jawad Williams, got his first action and scored his first points as a pro. Williams, who was activated for the previous game against Philadelphia when Boobie was placed on the injured list, got in at the 1:01 mark and scored on a jump-hook with 32 seconds to go.
8. For the past few years, the Cavaliers’ Achilles’ heel has been the third quarter, specifically the beginning of the third. But this year, they’ve taken care of business after intermission. The Wine and Gold had outscored their last two opponents by a combined 40 points in the third period.
“We’ve talked about it, but the players have emphasized it,” said Brown. “They’re aware of the way we’ve been in third quarters in the past and they’ve done their darndest to try to go out there and play the right way and see if we can get stops and let our defense create offense for us. And hopefully that’ll continue.”
9. The Cavaliers home-and-home series is the first one of the year, but it’s a growing trend in NBA scheduling. Their next home-and-home is later this month against Miami and the third is with New Jersey in March.
10. The Cavaliers have now won four in a row against the Sixers including Friday night’s win and Wednesday’s victory in Philadelphia.